Photo shows Copacabana Beach concert, not Trump rally

A top ally of former US president Donald Trump is claiming an image shows a massive crowd gathered for the Republican's May 11, 2024 campaign rally on the coast of New Jersey. This is false; the aerial photo was captured at a concert in Brazil years earlier.

"Yeah, New Jersey is in play for @realDonaldTrump. Could Joe Biden draw a crowd like this?" former Trump advisor Roger Stone said in a May 12, 2024 post on X.

Screenshot from X taken May 12, 2024

The post from Stone -- who received a pardon from Trump after being convicted as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged Russian collusion with the ex-president's 2016 campaign -- shows an overhead shot of a giant crowd lining a beach.

Similar posts spread across X after Trump's May 11 rally in Wildwood, a city on the coast of New Jersey. One user claimed to have personally taken the photo.

Trump has often boasted -- and sometimes misrepresented -- the crowd sizes at his events, and he insisted in Wildwood that the audience was "much bigger" than those drawn by American rock artist Bruce Springsteen, who hails from New Jersey. 

Local news outlets reported tens of thousands of Trump supporters in attendance.

But the picture Stone shared is not from New Jersey, which has voted Democratic in the last seven presidential elections.

Reverse image searches surfaced the photo on webpages claiming it showed a concert on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Some pages linked the picture to a 1994 performance by British singer Rod Stewart, while others connected it to a 2006 show from the Rolling Stones (archived here, here, here and here).

AFP could not verify the origins of the photo. But similar pictures AFP photojournalists captured at the Rolling Stones concert feature the same stage setup, tents, decorations and boats in the water. Roughly 1.5 million people turned out to see the performance, according to the band.

Screenshot from X taken May 12, 2024
General view of the Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro 18 February, 2006 where British rock band Rolling Stones will present their "A Bigger Bang" show. About 1,5 million people is expected to attend this free recital, the first of the Latin American tour.

Google Earth satellite imagery of Copacabana Beach also shows the geographical landmarks from the photo spread online (archived here).

Screenshot from X taken May 12, 2024, with elements outlined by AFP
Screenshot from Google Earth taken May 14, 2024, with elements outlined by AFP

AFP photos from Trump's Wildwood rally, meanwhile, include a white roller coaster and other amusement rides not seen in the photo.

People gather for a campaign rally by former US President and 2024 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in Wildwood, New Jersey, on May 11, 2024 (AFP / Jim WATSON)

Stone later suggested in a series of posts that he was joking, writing that "liberals have no sense of humor."

AFP has debunked other misinformation about US politics here.

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